New York City may not be the biggest city in the world (it’s number nine; Tokyo is number one), but it’s one of the most luminous. Across the world, New York is recognized as a cultural and political epicenter. That makes it an endlessly fascinating and endlessly dangerous place to hang out. We’ve already offered a few tips on what to avoid in New York but the city being the big, labyrinthine place it is, there’s always more ways to raise your awareness and keep safe when visiting New York City. So here, for your consideration, are several more things not to do when visiting New York.
1. Don’t Skip the Subway …
You might have heard horror stories about the subway, or you might have enough extra spending money to only take taxis, but you still shouldn’t skip the NYC subway system. It’s quick, cheap, and efficient. It’s also a quintessential part of visiting the coolest city in the world.
2. … But Keep Your Eyes Open When You’re There
It’s not so important to watch out for crime or whatnot; the subway is actually pretty safe if you just keep your eyes open. You don’t want to get on the wrong train. An express train, for example could really derail your travel plans when you spend an hour traveling to a borough you didn’t even intend to visit (sorry, Queens).
3. Don’t Walk Around With Zero Cash
A lot of small stores scattered throughout the city won’t let you use your credit or debit cards. Since you might never know when you’ll desperately need a Snicker’s bar, it’s a good idea to carry a few small bills with you.
4. Don’t Go to Times Square
Sorry, but it sucks now. Big money has turned Times Square into a big, shiny outdoor mall. Want to travel to the world’s most frenetic city to spent time in a giant Forever 21? Fine, but there are better, more unique opportunities than national chains to be found in New York City and it’s worth taking the time to seek them out.
5. Don’t Stand Around Looking Up at Buildings
If you want to find one surefire way to paint a target on your back for pickpockets, then just stand around looking up at super famous buildings. To veteran criminals, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not only a tourist, but you’re also not paying very much attention.
6. Don’t Go to the Top of the Empire State Building
Skip it; the lines are awful and the cost to get past them is a ton (and the wait can still be kind of long, even then). Instead, check out one of New York’s awesome other tall buildings with rooftop views; you can even grab a few drinks at a rooftop bar and achieve the same thrill of reaching the top of the Empire State Building with a beer in your hand.
7. Don’t Forget to Pee When you Can
On the level, New York City doesn’t have a ton of accessible public toilets, so it’s best to take the opportunities wherever you can. If you do find yourself in a desperate situation, it might be a good idea to look for the nearest public library for a good, free restroom.
8. Don’t Take a Carriage Ride
It might seem like a romantic idea, but it’s not great for the beasts who are forced to pull the carriage. Also, it’s smelly.
9. Don’t Forget to Plan For Travel Time
Just remember that, while you may want to see everything and it may seem like New York City is a smallish place, remember that twenty million people also live there. In other words, it takes time to get places. Consider the layout of the city when you’re planning each day in order to avoid having to spend most of your trip on the subway.
10. Don’t Take a Bus Tour
Just take the time to walk around the city and soak it up when you’re not heading to a specific location on the subway. You might not see everything, but you’ll get to fully experience those sites you do get to see. Honestly, New York is too big to see in one trip anyway.
11. Don’t Eat Street Food
It’s either poorly prepared or borderline unsafe. Pre-packaged goods are fine, but you should probably avoid anything home-made unless you have a cast iron stomach.
12. Don’t Tip Less than 20 Percent
New York is an expensive city to visit, but it’s even more costly to live in. When you’re dining out, it’s important to remember that and help out your local waitstaff by tipping at least 20 percent. Fifteen percent might be the norm elsewhere, but in NYC it’s considered gauche.
13. Don’t Go Shopping in the ‘Popular’ Districts
Stick to the small boutiques in the West Village, Williamsburg, NoLita, and the Lower East Side to get the true NYC shopping experience.
14. Don’t Forget a Backpack and Comfy Clothes
Things like a portable charger, a snack and water bottle, and a million other little necessities can be great when you’re working your way though the city.
15. Don’t Fall into the Tourist Trap
There is a ton of seemingly interesting stuff to do that’s designed to lure in (and then fleece) tourists with mediocre food and attractions. The intelligent tourists, however, can find some really mind-blowing museums, restaurants and shops all over the city. Just keep an eye out.